Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/402

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

tions of all degrees of severity, treated by many different observers, most of whom were French, German, and Scandinavian army surgeons, in order to confirm the experience obtained in some of my own cases. The invariable result of each and all was that such injuries thus treated got well in one third of the time that similar cases did under the usual method of absolute rest and fixation, and with less tendency to subsequent weakness, pain, and stiffness. Experience teaches that the sooner after a sprain massage is begun, the quicker is the recovery. In Germany the military authorities now require a semiannual report from their surgeons upon the results of massage in injuries of joints; and the statistics of Gasener, Starke, Körner, and others clearly show the rapid results of this method, and the economy of time to the soldier. I fear it will be a long time before many of the physicians and surgeons in the United States will condescend to try their hands at massage; indeed, most physicians adopt, prescribe, or tolerate massage in the same way that Constantine the Great embraced Christianity—more from policy than conviction.

The orthodox treatment of absolute immobility alone in these cases has little else to support it than the dogmatism of centuries, from which it is almost impossible for a surgeon to free himself, unless he has been the unfortunate victim of a sprain, and had it treated with massage. Supposing a prize of ten thousand dollars were offered for the quickest way to make a well joint stiff, what more effectual means could be resorted to than first to give it a wrench or sprain, and then do it up in a fixed dressing, so that the resulting inflammation would have an opportunity of producing adhesion of the parts? And this is the prevailing treatment of sprains. The same plan of treatment is employed for the purpose of closing up holes in other parts of the body—namely, that of exciting adhesive inflammation; and, unfortunately, it sometimes closes the cavity of a joint also.

It would seem as if we had sufficient proof of the beneficial effects of massage in injuries and affections of joints in human beings, without intentionally inflicting similar injuries on animals in order to treat them by massage, and study the effects of this upon them. However, much interesting and confirmatory evidence has resulted from such experiments, and the effects produced are no longer left in the realm of theory, but brought into the sunny light of science and ocular demonstration. The mind of man may be prepossessed in favor of massage, and this would help recovery; of animals it can not be, unless they had had massage before for a similar hurt. Animals that have been treated by massage can be killed and the effects studied and compared with similar injuries in other joints of the same animal that have not had massage. Von Mosengeil, Professor of Surgery